UPDATED – State Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, and lobbyist Martin J. “Marty” Connors of Alabaster have been indicted on public-corruption charges, U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr. of Montgomery announced today.
The two, along with G. Ford Gilbert of Carmichael, California, are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and honest services fraud. Gilbert also is charged with wire fraud, health care fraud and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
The alleged scheme involved efforts to require Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama to cover medical services provided by a company owned by Gilbert, Franklin said.
Williams in a statement released Tuesday said he had done nothing wrong and expected to be found innocent.
“I trust our judicial system and our electoral system; they have both protected individual rights for hundreds of years,” Williams said.
Williams, who has served in the Legislature for 14 years, said he will serve out his term and continue his race for the District 5 seat on the Jefferson County Commission.
Efforts to reach Connors for comment were unsuccessful.
Gilbert, 70, is owner of Trina Health LLC, which operates diabetes treatment centers worldwide. Soon after Trina opened three clinics in Alabama in 2014 and 2015, the indictment says, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama informed the company that it would not cover treatments it provided.
“Gilbert then schemed to force Blue Cross to change its position,” Franklin’s office said in a statement issued today.
“He came up with a plan to push a bill through the Alabama Legislature’s 2016 session that would require Blue Cross to cover the treatments,” the statement said. “Gilbert then made payments to State of Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon in exchange for his efforts on behalf of the bill.”
Gilbert hired Connors, a former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, to lobby on behalf of the bill, the statement said. It said Connors was aware of Gilbert’s payments to Hammon.
“Hammon and Connors then recruited Defendant Williams, the chairman of the Commerce and Small Business Committee of the Alabama House, to hold a public hearing on the bill,” the statement said. “Williams also knew of the payments to Hammon and acted in part to help Hammon, who was experiencing grave financial problems.”
Williams and Connors were arrested at their homes Monday morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan S. Ross told The Associated Press. The two, each in shackles around his wrists and waist, appeared in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Charles S. Coody and were being released on bail, the AP reported. They will be arraigned April 18.
Hammon, R-Decatur, was sentenced in February to three months in prison after pleading guilty to felony mail fraud in another case. He was ousted from the Legislature in 2017 after entering a guilty plea in that case.
This story has been updated with the statement released by Williams.